At the beginning of each new school year, students find themselves comparing the benefits of joining a student organization to the sometimes-overwhelming time commitment it requires.
While overloading oneself is undoubtedly the fastest way to a failing GPA, choosing to forgo involvement with campus orgs will ensure an inferior college experience.
Joining an organization allows you to not only get involved with something you harbor passion for, but also meet others who share a similar interest. Making those friendships can be essential to maintaining positive mental health.
UCLA’s annual Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey showed “the proportion of students who said in the UCLA survey that they spent 16 or more hours a week socializing with friends dropped by nearly half, to 18 percent in 2014,” and is continuing to steadily deteriorate.
Kevin Eagan, the director of the UCLA program, believes the declining emotional health of modern college students is directly linked to the decline of prioritizing social activities “because (students are) not allowing themselves to find the release from all of the stress.”
Whether you’re fighting for social justice or spending time learning how to bake, getting involved is essential to your mental health. Students who don’t prioritize their mental health will quickly see it decline, a lesson many have unfortunately learned the hard way.
Many student organizations are also focused on making a difference on campus, the local community and, in some cases, even the world. Those who volunteer their time working toward positive change can, upon graduation, leave knowing they’ve directly made the world a better place.
In many cases, involvement in campus organizations segues into leadership roles, which offer students the opportunity to not only learn skills that will more than likely benefit them in their future careers but also to network and make connections they can lean on when trying to start a career.
Nearly half of all recent college graduates end up in jobs that don’t require degrees due to America’s highly competitive job market, according to the Huffington Post. Having an advantage over a peer will be crucial for landing a job come graduation day.
However, taking on to much responsibility will lead to an impossible schedule and a plummeting GPA. But the key to balancing school, work and socializing is simple: Organization.
USF gives students free planners in the Marshall Center for a reason. They know how crucial scheduling is to maintaining a healthy life.
If you notice your week is getting filled, stop taking on other projects. It’s better to miss an ice cream social than it is to skip studying for the next morning’s exam. Prioritizing commitments is vital, as students will undoubtedly be forced to say “no” to things they love in order to accomplish something more important.
So learn to rely on your planner as much as you do your phone. Take advantage of the free yoga sessions and the counseling center on campus.
Choosing to remain isolated and to not get involved will lead to an unfulfilled experience, but biting off more than you can chew will have you spiraling out of control within weeks of the new semester.
Grab flyers this week from every student org you meet; peruse BullSync and find a group that shares your passion.
Don’t be afraid to say “yes.” But accept that it’s OK to say “no.”
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.